Actress Marcia Cross, who played the character Bree Van De Kamp in the series ‘Desperate Housewives’, revealed that she faced cancer in the anal canal discovered in 2018. According to her, the disease probably arose as a consequence of HPV (a sexually transmitted virus).
Cases like the one of the actress raise a warning about the increase of cases of the disease, which worries specialists around the world. The incidence of cancer cases resulting from HPV, inclusive, was one of the subjects discussed in the 2019 edition of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting, the largest oncology event in the world, which took place in Chicago between May 31 and June 4.
On that occasion, studies were presented that reinforce the importance of HPV vaccination as an essential tool for curbing the rates of emergence of anal canal and cervical tumors among the world population. However, despite this recommendation, in Brazil, it is estimated that only 48.7% of girls aged 9 to 14 years – target population recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – were immunized.
“We know that HPV vaccination is included in the country’s health calendar, but we have noticed a decrease in demand for immunization. This can’t happen at all. If we manage to vaccinate all girls and boys under 13, the decrease in these diseases will be very effective,” says oncologist Roberto Gil, of the Rio de Janeiro Oncoclinics Group.
According to him, both anal and cervical cancer are preventable by HPV vaccination. “In Australia, for example, 90% of people are vaccinated and there the incidence curve of the disease has decreased a lot,” stresses Dr. Roberto. For the oncologist, the vaccination should be on a large scale.
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HPV is responsible for increased rates of cervical cancer in Brazil
According to data from the National Cancer Institute (Inca), cervical cancer affects 16,000 women a year in Brazil, making it the third most prevalent type of cancer among the female population. The disease is silent and, therefore, in about 35% of cases it ends up leading to death. The concern about the growing rates of the disease increases when analyzed the main cause of the condition: the contagion by HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
The most common type of sexually transmitted infection in the world, HPV massively affects the female population in Brazil – 75% of sexually active women in the country will come into contact with the virus throughout their lives, with the apex of transmission of the virus occurring in the 25-year range.
“The generation of young people and adults under the age of 30 values and values sexual freedom. It is a group that was born after the HIV boom and, although well informed and aware of the risks involving sexually transmitted diseases, has high rates of infection with the so-called human papillomavirus. After the contagion, at least 5% of these Brazilian women will develop cervical cancer within two to ten years, an alarming rate,” says Andrey Soares, oncologist at the Oncoclinics Group in São Paulo.
Anal cancer occurs in the canal and on the outer edges of the anus. This type of tumor represents 1% to 2% of all colorectal tumors and 2 to 4% of all types of cancer that affect the large intestine, but its incidence has increased mainly due to HPV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Therefore, two of the main tools for risk reduction are the use of condoms and HPV vaccination, which avoids contagion with viruses and bacteria transmitted by sexual contact and which are directly related to the development of this type of cancer
“Cervical cancer is already considered a public health problem in our country and is part of the Strategic Action Plan for Confronting Chronic Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD), which includes HPV vaccination for boys and girls aged 9-26. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen information on the importance of vaccination. It can save many lives,” stresses the doctor.
About the Oncoclínicas Group
Founded in 2010, it is the largest cancer treatment specialist group in Latin America. It has operations in oncology, radiotherapy and hematology in 11 Brazilian states. Currently, it has more than 60 units among clinics and hospital partnerships, which offer individualized treatment, based on scientific update, and focused on patient safety and comfort.
Its clinical staff is composed of more than 500 physicians, in addition to the multidisciplinary support teams, which are responsible for the integral care of patients. The Oncoclinicas Group also has an exclusive partner in Brazil with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the most renowned cancer research and treatment centers in the world, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, in Boston, USA.